What is the effect of therapeutic exercise or tailored physical activity programs supported by a mobile app (compared with exercise or physical activity programs delivered using other modes) for people with musculoskeletal pain conditions?
Systematic review of published randomised controlled trials with meta-analysis.
People of all ages with musculoskeletal pain conditions.
Therapeutic exercise or tailored physical activity programs supported by a mobile app.
Pain intensity, pain interference, self-reported physical function, physical performance, adherence, psychosocial outcomes, health-related quality of life, work participation, physical activity, goal attainment and satisfaction.
Eleven studies were eligible for inclusion, with a total of 845 participants. There was low certainty evidence that using mobile apps to deliver exercise programs helps to reduce pain intensity to a worthwhile extent (SMD -0.60, 95% CI -0.93 to -0.27). There was low certainty evidence that using mobile apps to deliver exercise programs helps to improve self-reported physical function to a worthwhile extent (SMD -0.92, 95% CI -1.57 to -0.27). Although the effect of using mobile apps to deliver exercise programs on pain interference was also estimated to be a worthwhile benefit (SMD -0.66), this estimate came with marked uncertainty (95% CI -1.52 to 0.19) so the effect remains unclear. The remainder of the outcomes were unclear due to sparse evidence. The most common behaviour change intervention functions in the mobile app interventions were: training, enablement and environmental restructuring.
Mobile apps supporting therapeutic exercise or tailored physical activity programs for musculoskeletal pain conditions may help in reducing pain intensity and improving physical function. The mobile apps utilised a limited range of behaviour change intervention functions.
CRD42021248046.

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